Wallabies lock Dan Vickerman 'a good bastard' - former All Blacks lock Chris Jack
Former All Black Chris Jack has recalled the times he locked horns with old Wallabies foe Dan Vickerman, describing him as "a good bastard" who played hard and fair, but was a "lovely guy" who enjoyed post-match banter and beer.
Vickerman, 37, died at the weekend, leaving behind a wife and two children. There were no suspicious circumstances in the death.
Nelson-based Jack played 67 tests for the All Blacks from 2001-07 and 110 games for the Crusaders between 1999 and 2011 and said that he remembers playing 63-test veteran Vickerman at both international and Super Rugby level.
"I played a lot against Dan both for the All Blacks and Crusaders and overseas in the UK as well," Jack said.
* Ex-Wallabies lock Dean Vickerman dies
"We obviously had a bit of friendly banter on the field which was good. He was a really skilful competitor and a really hard worker and it's just sad that he's not around anymore really," Jack said.
"It's an absolute tragedy really for anybody to die that young, specially someone with two kids and a wife.
"I was as shocked as everyone else [Sunday] night I think when a friend texted me to check out the internet. But I remember playing against him and he was always a really tough competitor. He liked a bit of niggle, which I enjoyed as well, and I enjoyed playing against him."
Despite Vickerman's competitive nature, Jack said that he was great company off the field.
"We had a few beers occasionally but with professional rugby being the way it is, you don't get a lot of time to spend together. But we definitely had a yarn after games and stuff.
"Off the field he was a lovely guy to have a yarn and share a beer with - just a good bastard really.
"He was a lovely guy and he deserves to be honoured properly."
Jack said it's been a difficult time for world rugby with the deaths of South African great Joost van der Westhuizen, aged 45, and former All Black loose forward Sione Lauaki, 35, this month.
"Like everyone else in the rugby world I'm a little bit shocked with what's been going on in the last year or so ... and I hope we don't have to carry on mourning our great sportsmen."
A former Tasman Makos player, Jack retired from competitive rugby in 2015 and is now a builder and a Nelson Child Cancer Foundation ambassador.
Jack played for English club Saracens and Vickerman for Northampton, with South African-born Vickerman having also played for both the Waratahs and Brumbies.